Eric Merrell


A native Californian, Eric Merrell lived and studied on the East Coast for years before making his return out west. His connections to the Golden State shine through in his work, drawing inspiration from its deserts and dunes to its skateparks.

His approach is informed by a deep engagement with the environs in which he works. For nearly two decades, he has found inspiration specifically in the California desert, which has opened up new opportunities for composing space and working with natural forms. Moonlight—and in particular, the desert nocturne—has become a significant part of his oeuvre, for the freedom it allows and the mystery it contains. Nocturnes, a short film about the artist’s approach and dedication to painting at night, was released in January 2016.

Balancing representation and abstraction, Merrell’s paintings reflect an intense awareness of physical places. His knowledge of the history, geography, flora, and fauna of a location unite with his sense of color and design. Whether depicting concrete streets in an urban metropolis, a portrait painted outside, a playful still life, or the poetry of solitude in the vast desert night, they stand apart.

Merrell was selected for a Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency in 2009, where he spent two summer months painting in the Mojave Desert. Two solo exhibitions of the work were subsequently held, the first in New York City in 2010, and another the following year in Pasadena, California. In 2019 he was chosen for an Artist Residency with the Mojave National Preserve Artist Foundation; an exhibition of the work was held at the La Quinta Museum in 2022.

His work has been exhibited at the Autry Museum of the American West, the Frederick R. Weisman Museum, La Quinta Museum, the Long Beach Museum of Art, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, the Oceanside Museum of Art, the San Bernardino County Museum, USC Fisher Museum of Art, and the Wildling Museum, among others.

Eric Merrell is represented by Maxwell Alexander Gallery, Los Angeles, California.

View the Autry’s interview with Eric Merrell here. Recorded live January/2023. 


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